Review- My Dearest EnemySaturday, 02 April 2011 01:43
My Dearest Enemy, My Dangerous Friend: Making and Breaking Sibling Bonds
Reviewed by Sandra Goodman PhD
I am a Number One fan of Dorothy Rowe. I admire her straight-talking way of discussing the inner world of individuals in light of their family circumstances and experiences, including our fear of annihilation due to perceived threats to our sense of being a person.
In this her most recent book, she sheds light on the fruitful and pivotal roles played by our siblings in our growing up, and in our present life, workplace and even the wider world. It is astonishing that perhaps the most important and endearing relationships we ever form - that with our siblings, i.e. brothers and sisters - have never been the proper investigation or study of Psychologists, Psychiatrists or Therapists. This is despite the passage of a century of becoming familiar with many forms of Psychotherapy and the notions of talking about how our life situations, behaviour and attitudes may stem from our early childhood, or our parents, or indeed life-changing events.
People talk about their relationships with their sisters and brothers with an intensity that far supersedes that of their friends or even their parents. Relationships between siblings is a vitally important relationship that we don't understand. Dr. Rowe has amassed a huge amount of research material to present this book, drawn from published letters, dramatic plays, books, personal experiences and interviews with patients. She draws from her own personal history how early events in her and her sister's life affected the way they related to each other in ways that we can all understand from our own past experiences. Many of us have had fights with our sisters and brothers which have had cataclysmic repercussions far beyond that moment in time. This is fascinating material to read and absorb and gain understanding into our own lives.
"We see the world in the way we have learned to see it. In our early years our family is our world, and so, when we encounter the world outside our family, we interpret that world in the way we have learned to interpret our family...when we encounter people in positions of authority we can find ourselves re-enacting the particular kind of encounters we had with our parents, and with our friends and colleagues we re-enact our tussles with our siblings. Indeed, we can re-enact with different groups the siblings dramas of 'the good one' and 'the bad one' "
Interwoven into this gem of a book are additional priceless insights regarding some of Dorothy Rowe's themes which she has written about in her many other books: about Introverts and extroverts, about belief in A Just world, or about believing that God or some Higher Power will influence our life. In discussing Introverts, Dorothy Rowe mentions that the term introvert has become translated into a negative, derogative term, particularly in American society, so much so that someone who is quiet, keeps to themselves, is called a loner. And this stereotype was exactly played out recently in the murderous shooting in the Virginia College, where the murderer was branded as a loner by almost everyone interviewed. There is no argument that the murderer was deranged and highly dangerous; however, it is sad that to be a loner or an introvert is now considered almost criminal, where, probably about half of people are introverts.
Dorothy Rowe is a deeply subversive and hence dangerous free thinker. She discusses Northern Ireland terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Terrorism and 9/11 and the Power of Brotherhood in a riveting chapter titled Loyalty and Betrayal. Read this book and it will surely change your life.